Archives for category: women

I am sipping my morning coffee, considering the walk I am eager to want to take. I’m “not there yet”. lol My muscles ache from pushing myself, already. I’m not bitching about it, and I’m not unhappy over it. Sore muscles are muscles working a bit harder, doing more things that need done, and becoming more capable of more work. Consistency is a requirement for forward progress; if I skip the walk today over sore muscles, I don’t make as much progress toward my goals, nor as quickly, so… at some point? Walking. I’m not looking forward to the walking itself, although I’d like to. I am in pain. The walking helps the pain in my back and my neck (osteoarthritis), but is less helpful with the bad ankle that has to support the weight. Without walking, the weight remains an issue. With the walking, the ankle is an issue. I’m not saying it as though this is an unsolvable conundrum, either, just saying that these complications are part of my experience. 🙂 There’s a metaphor here…

It’s a journey with a lot of steps.

We become what we practice. Emotionally and physically. There’s not a lot of room to argue on this one. Are you hot tempered, easily frustrated, quick to react, and tending to fall back on negative feedback and criticism to communicate your needs? Well, that’s the person you become, over time, in a fixed and rather predictably unpleasant way. Are you tender-hearted, prone to tears in the face of negative feedback, (whether or not it is accurate or well-intended, or useful at all) particularly when it comes from someone whose opinion you value? Same slope; you become more of who you already are, and what you choose to do with the toxicity of the world around you, because it is what you practice. You may get called a bitch when you demand that your agency be respected, or when you insist on not being interrupted in a meeting, but that lack of boundary-setting? It’s a practice, too.

…Also? Don’t be a dick. Don’t be a bitch. Don’t call someone names, either; how about we start there? Speak gently. Be clear, and also honest. “Stay in your lane” in the sense that not every opinion you have actually needs to be shared (particularly with regard to your aesthetic, and someone else’s appearance). Check your assumptions – a lot of them are wrong (the science is in on that) – and practice deep listening, instead of waiting for your turn to talk.

Does it sound like I’m venting aimlessly, about commonplace bullshit we all seem to engage in, if not regularly, then once in a while? Well… then I’ve failed to communicate clearly. I’ll try again…

Your words matter. Use them with care. If you are communicating with someone you say you love, communicate with love – real love, using words and tone that make it very clear that the love is first and foremost in your mind, rather than some momentary frustration. Our bitterness, our hurt, our anger – once shared, it’s out there. Shared with emotional force, and absent the love that may be part of our experience, it causes real harms, real doubts about our affection, and can undermine that love we cherish so much.

Don’t let the sun set on a treasured relationship without saying something encouraging, supportive, authentically affectionate – the smallest moment of authentic appreciation and praise can change the color of an entire day. I am fairly certain most of us share negative feedback with cherished others almost every day… imagine the crushing weight of all that criticism, all that negativity, the constant pressure to raise oneself up from beneath the weight of it… Let’s not do that. Let’s handle our words with greater care, ensuring that we take more time for what is positive and uplifting that we do for things we see as problems needing correction.

I challenge you to practice even a 1 to 1 ratio of (authentic) compliments and (sincere) encouragement to criticism and requests for change. I hope you find that incredibly easy (and succeed) – because people need more love and encouragement than that, and as starting points go, it’s a bare minimum for success. I promise you that if you are only sharing negative feedback, that’s all that is being heard. That sounds like a pretty terrible experience to be on the receiving end of, just saying. Use your words as a force for good in your life, use them to lift others up, to encourage what is positive in everyone you meet.

A lot of people may grow up in environments in which very little positive feedback is shared, or the positive words are hollow superlatives about qualities they can’t control, and no attention given to the whole person. People coming from that place may not know how to give authentic positive feedback, and may genuinely not understand why it is necessary. They need to see it done, to feel it, before it will be something they can easily practice themselves. Is that someone part of your life? Be open to explicitly telling them what you need to hear – without excuses, or a need to justify yourself. It’s okay to need what you need, and it’s also quite okay to ask for it. 🙂 “I need you to say something nice to me right now.” may feel weird to say, but it is one place to start. 🙂

We’re all so human. There’s so much stress and hostility in the world right now. Our culture feels so toxic. Be someone who understands there is work to be done, and recognize you can do some of it. Be someone willing to do it. Be the change we need. Speak gently. Be encouraging and kind. Soften your tone. Be trustworthy. Be honest without being mean. Let small shit go. Don’t drink the poison offered to you. Don’t offer others poison.

Don’t like the world as it is? Be part of what changes it. We become what we practice. Practice being the person you truly most want to be. Every choice, every interaction, every day. Sometimes you will fail (I know I do); your results will vary. Practice more. 🙂 Be that better version of yourself, because you choose it, and it matters. Other people may not make these choices – don’t drink the poison they offer you, and walk your own path. 😉

It’s time to begin again.

I’ve been enjoying some lovely mornings with my Traveling Partner, instead of writing, knowing that our mortal time is precious, and too brief. As it happens, he’s traveling, this very morning, and although he is in my thoughts, he won’t be around to have coffee with me tomorrow morning. I’m feeling pretty content with having deviated from my routine for a couple days, to enjoy his charm and good company. This morning? Less than ideal for entirely circumstantials reasons, and although we hugged in passing, it was more a “Tag! You’re it!” sort of thing, a kiss, a hug, and I headed for the office, and he headed for the airport some short time later. I already miss his smile, his scent, his humor, and his good heart. 🙂

…What was less than ideal was mostly that we were out of coffee, so not only did I not have coffee in the morning, I couldn’t even offer him a cup made-to-order, upon his awaking to greet the day. :-\ Wholly disappointing on so many levels. Waiting until I get to work to have my first cup of coffee is definitely “less than ideal”. Not a fan. It’s even my own fault; I got distracted by news that he’d be flying out this morning, as I was heading home last night, and simply forgot to stop for coffee beans. It was on my mind. I’d committed in advance to taking care of it at a favorite spot downtown, so he focused on preparing for travel. Thus… no coffee. Damn it. Still, in all other respects, a lovely enough morning, and an acceptably positive start to the day.

Now? Now I am putting thought into this moment, this life, and a short list of tasks I committed to taking care of while he’s away – and a whole weekend ahead to do it. 🙂 Smiling, thinking about love…

I stood outside in the cold, taking my break, getting some fresh air and life perspective, as dawn became day, and found myself contemplating sufficiency, and love, and progress, and forward momentum, individual and shared successes… and I could almost hear old baggage hitting the pavement. I felt myself letting go, giving myself closure on a couple of prior relationship aggravations that still pained me, that I had continued to struggle with. It didn’t amount to “forgiveness” – maybe this just wasn’t about that? It was more that I could really appreciate, on this cold autumn morning, that the ends of those relationships really did free me to elevate (and, paradoxically, to deepen) this one that I value so greatly. Particularly with regard to consideration of an ex who relished tearing people down, who seemed to have so much power to hold us (my Traveling Partner and I) both back in life, through chronic gaslighting, narcissistic manipulation, pitting us against each other, petty jealousy and drama (and much, much more!)… and there I stood, on this magical autumn morning, clear skies, cold breezes, feeling… free. Free of her bullshit, free of her drama, and sort of chuckling to myself about how incredible all our lives together could have been, if she had been… someone else. lol Not her fault… just her choices. (Mine, too, I’m not inclined to overlook the power of my own decision-making, and one of the best I made was walking on from that tedious, painful, regrettable relationship before the damage was worse than it was.) We’re each so human. I’m sure she sees herself as entirely blameless, perhaps even “the good guy” – and this morning, any possible perception of injustice in that likelihood simply stopped mattering at all. Irrelevant to the point of being distant, and almost fictional. She has no power over me. Even her memory is faded, stale, and impotent.

The smile on my face as I returned to work almost hurt. A merry grin, innocent, content, and free… it feels good to put down some of that baggage, after so long, and to be here, now, and wrapped in love.

…Another opportunity to begin again. 😀

Well. That was a night of something other than rest. lol Nightmares woke me around 2 am. It was almost three before sleep caught up with me again. My dreams, thankfully, shifted gears, but… the content was strange (very) and fantastical… something about a church service breaking out into a raucous, violent, drunken party in the basement of a building in which corporate performance reviews were about to be given out under (for some reason) strict secrecy. There were Leprechauns in attendance (whether they were party-goers or work colleagues wasn’t at all clear), and for some reason, the professional folks were all wearing pajamas, and big screen tvs were showing Saturday morning cartoons. Very odd. Let’s never discuss it again. LOL

…Being awake, sipping a hot cup of coffee, seems a relief, and a clear return to normalcy. 🙂 It’s enough. I yawn through these first sips of coffee, tired after the 3rd (4th?) consecutive night of fairly bad sleep. These things often go in cycles, so I refrain from taking it at all personally, and figure, more than likely, the rough sleep is due to the injured shoulder; it is a pain that is disrupting my sleep. I feel it every time I try to turn over, every time I lay on my right side, and my sleep ends up interrupted, restless, and not very deep. Lots of opportunity for dreams, and yes, nightmares. I remind myself that I already have a doctor’s appointment scheduled, and look at my calendar. It’s not on my calendar, so I look it up online, and add it – and invite “my work self”, so it’ll be on my calendar in the office also. 🙂

Nothing to see here – all routine human stuff, the business of living life. 🙂 I’m okay with “average”, “routine”, and “normal”, and drama is not welcome here…so… yeah. I get back to sipping coffee, and feeling this shoulder ache. lol

My thoughts careen through memories and random stream-of-consciousness weirdness for a time.

I breathe, exhale, relax, and sit present with the pain in my shoulder, and the tinnitus in my ears. It’s some time before I realize some of what I’m hearing is traffic beyond the window, and some of it is the fan on my computer. Another sip of coffee, contemplating the day ahead, gently (work has been intense, lately). The cup returns to the stone coaster on the desk with an unexpectedly loud clunk, and I shoot a suspicious look at cup, coaster, and fingers still wrapped through and around the white porcelain handle, motionless – as though freezing for a brief instant somehow mitigates the loud noise in the quiet room. LOL

…I wonder, for the first time, why the hell I am using a stone coaster with a porcelain coffee mug, early in the mornings, in a very quiet environment, when I am specifically cultivating the quiet? This seems an inexplicably counter-productive choice. Shouldn’t I be using a soft, silent, coaster, perhaps of cork… or… fake fur…with googly eyes? I quake silently with mirth at the mental image of a fake fur coaster. (Omg, I need more sleep. lol)

Something about the mirthful moment is a reminder of recent inspiration; my Traveling Partner shared something artistic (a painting technique), and I found it inspiring, fascinating, and potentially very suited to my artistic approach. I’m excited about the weekend to come; maybe I will spend some of it in the studio? The idea becomes a smile, another sip of coffee, and a moment – it almost becomes a plan. My eye roams the room… paint… glitter… glow in the dark… canvases… Yeah, I’m overdue to get some creative work done. I think I screwed myself attempted to exorcise the toxic demon that is an X of mine by way of paint on canvas; an individual so utterly vile, so irredeemably poisonous, that even finishing the representation was hard to approach, and the likeness sits unfinished on my easel, holding me back. Maybe I should “finish” it with some quick machete work, instead? The idea amuses me, maybe enough to finish it properly, let go, and really, finally, completely move on.

…It’s the forgiveness that’s hard, isn’t it? Once we have been wounded badly enough, deeply enough, damaged thoroughly enough, the forgiveness becomes… difficult. It’s hard to stay with the awareness that the forgiveness isn’t about the person who hurt us, not really, it’s about us, ourselves, letting go. Forgiveness doesn’t absolve someone of the wrongs they have done. It’s not an excuse, and does not condone bad behavior. From my perspective, the forgiveness simply allows us to move on, to admit to our pain, to refuse someone who has injured us any further opportunity to command our attention through their hurtful acts; we can walk on, and leave them to deal with their own pain, their own chaos and damage. Not my circus, not my monkeys. It’s a letting go that mitigates some of the damage, releases us from the powerful hold someone who has hurt us can maintain, and lets us get on with our own lives. There is no lasting requirement to see the forgiven one again, ever, or interact with them, or pretend we were not hurt, or to allow any further damage. I think what makes forgiveness hard is that it is clearly more kind, and more compassionate, than vengeance or punishment – but even though either of those (or both) may be entirely deserved, they do a lot of damage to the person needing to deliver them. It’s a bother, and a weird puzzle.

I can’t have vengeance, and I can’t punish that X, ever, enough to “make things right” – there is no amount of punishment available that could do that work. It is what it is. (Maybe we’re all someone’s villain?) Forgiveness tastes bitter in my mouth, like unripe fruit; I haven’t been ready. That portrait has mocked me, now, for months. That X does not “deserve” forgiveness… then I remember; my X may not “deserve” the relief that forgiveness may bring… but I do. 🙂 Forgiveness is for the one forgiving. Forgiveness allows us to walk on. I guess it’s time. After all, what are they to me, now? Nothing and no one; it’s time to let them go in a proper and final way. I’ll feel so much better – and I’ll finish that damned painting. LOL

I glance into my empty coffee mug. Obviously. It’s time to begin again. 🙂

Yesterday was… hard. Tears came unexpectedly, and fairly often. Like punctuation for sentences I didn’t expect to have emotional content. My context had become emotional. It was difficult. It was strange. It is ongoing, although reduced in frequency and amplitude. It still comes in waves.

I went to work because I often find routine very comfortable and sustaining in times of turmoil and crisis. I went home early because punctuating sentences in professional conversations with floods of tears feels like a loss of dignity, feels inappropriate, and, frankly, is hard on other people; we don’t all live equally authentic lives. That’s just real. (It’s not a criticism.) My Traveling Partner was kind, supportive, and very much “there for me”.

I made a dinner of crab cakes – seasoned as my Mom would have enjoyed – with a healthy salad, and a luxurious, but quite tiny dessert. I celebrated her life, in my thoughts. I would not call it an easy evening, but I went to bed contented and generally okay with “things”, and slept through the night, untroubled by my dreams. I woke, and got through the first 15 minutes of the day before I remembered… she’s gone.

I sat down to write, with my coffee, and tried to reset my thinking a bit, to shift explicitly away from sorrow, firmly. My thinking, my recollections, and the feel of my day kept twisting out of my grip. The result was not what I expected, but I’m okay with it.

The morning ticks by, not unpleasantly. I’m just in this weird limbo; fighting the grieving without meaning to put up such resistance, struggling to “let her go” in my own heart, and unsure what I even mean by that. Was I clinging, in the first place? Who is this sorrowful hearted creature fluttering within me? I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I do a classic “body inventory” and get more comfortable with my physical experience, shifting my awareness back into “now”, over and over again. I find myself literally “twisted by grief”, shoulder aching, head aching, neck aching, less in that familiar way, and more like a reminder to be present… or else.

A favorite groove turns up on the playlist this morning, and in that peculiarly meta way I have of listening to music, seeking a useful message in the lyrics, it reminds me; it’s not all about me. I link it, and giggle out loud; it’s really not the sort of thing one would usually associate with grief, grieving, or… um… adulthood. lol I smile, and feel the ache in my face, self-conscious and strange, that results from just a simple smile. I breathe. Exhale. Relax. This, too, shall pass. This morning the words hold some comfort, and I embrace them. I feel the suggestion of a possible return to normalcy at some future point – there’s comfort in that, too.

…It’s been a while since I spent a morning listening to music. There’s a certain heavy bass experience that somehow lifts me. I chase it, track by track, feeling it in my body. I roll back years of lifetime, track by track, looking for a certain something to lift my mood, to crack open my heart and let the love pour out.

Somehow, time passes. I find my way to one more beginning. I’ll start there… well… here. A summer morning. A cup of coffee. A bit of work to do. Surrounded by love. It’s a good place to begin again. 🙂

I’m sipping my coffee. My face is wet with the tears that just keep coming. The phone call this morning was brief. Heartfelt. Tender. My sister’s resolve and her will to hold her feelings in check impress me, even as I continue to weep. We kept the call brief; no doubt she has other calls she wants to make. Neither of us like crying “out loud” in a public way, and seeing as we’re so “strong”, we manage not to cry on the phone. Much. The call ends, the tears start.

I consider not writing, but… grief isn’t an everyday experience. I already feel… shattered. This, in spite of knowing it was imminent, in spite of being “well-prepared”, in spite of speaking gently and explicitly with my Mother, herself, about this moment, frankly, compassionately, honestly… in spite of spending yesterday well-supported by a loving and concerned partner… nonetheless; I am crying. Routines are something I can fall back on to hold life together, until… something.

“This, too, shall pass.” (I know, I know – I fucking know that, now knock that shit off, while I shed these honest tears for the passing of a complex woman, who gave me life. I’ll be okay, just not… right now, exactly.)

…Anyway. No idea how this amount of grief may affect my writing. I’m glad you are here. I hope you are well. Maybe I write a lot more than usual over the next several days? Maybe I find myself unable to lift my hands to type words in row at all. I don’t even know. I guess we’ll find out together, eh?

It’ll be okay. I reflexively offer myself all the comforting platitudes I can find. “We are mortal creatures.” (That’s a very real observation, at the moment. Painfully real. It offers no particular comfort. Perhaps it will later…?) It’s not really helpful, and I let it go.

…I don’t really know what else to do. So… I begin again.